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Gearing up for team sports this summer…and all of the benefits that come with it

Hello everyone, I hope you are all having a great start to your summer. What a “wonderful” and drastic weekend of weather it has been the past couple of weeks. Although many of us did not get the weather we hoped for Memorial day, it has become the time of year where the heat has transitioned from feeling like a warm blanket you can wrap around yourself into the feeling of a ton of bricks you can’t escape slowing down your whole body. This makes it hard for me to motivate and execute my already limited athletic abilities. While I have never been the most athletic person, during the pandemic I have felt a craving for the outdoors like never before. At the start, the only thing I could find motivation for was going on long walks all around my neighborhood. Exercising outdoors was my medicine and my release. On these long walks I would often imagine and dream of the days I could join my friends in doing some of our favorite activities. Not only were these activities a way for us to come together but they were also competitive and a way for us to challenge each other in controlled environments.

Because I wasn’t the most coordinated child, my favorite “sport” at camp was “capture the flag.” It wasn’t about the actual sport itself but the comradery and competition the event created. The strategic thinking it took to win the game of “capture the flag” was almost as difficult as running for the flag itself dodging 25 people along the way. While this isn’t a team sport it was my way of tapping into the competitive and captivating nature that seems to linger in the air at summer camp. It is in team sports that kids tap into the development of an array of skills. The differentiating factor of summer camp sports is the ability to tap into expertise in ways that are more hands on and experiential. Rather than speaking and analyzing in depthly about decisions that need to be made, competitive sports formulate decisive and short decision making processes. Team members gain agency from the quick and constant decisions that happen during a game, then they are forced to deal with the consequences of that decision in real time. Sports summer camps really lead to children developing an agency that is not nearly as conducive to developing in the schooling environment.

Not only do members of a team practice with agency and tap into individual decision making practices when playing competitively but they also work side by side with their peers for a common goal. At sports camps, campers are not just part of the team they worked so hard to create but a larger camp collective. Being a part of these groups gives campers a larger identity and a chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves. In a world that has become so insular and individualized, especially this year when Zoom has been the primary form of communication, the best summer camps in 2021 will be the ones centering team sports. It was on my “capture the flag” team that I saw the benefit every player can bring to the larger collective. I always struggled participating in things I did not have as much skill in, sports was a time for me to learn to rely on my teammates, learn from them, and the ways we can best support and empower one another’s abilities. These activities are the ones that helped to bond us together the most. This summer it is more important than ever to center team work and channeling pent up energy into fun, energetic, and skill building activities as a collective. Sports summer camps not only taps into team building abilities but also gets campers of all ages off of the screen. Team sports remind campers of all the joy that lays beyond the screen and sucks them out of the technology whole they have been forced to be in for a while now.

At Pingry there are so many different sports camps to choose from where these skills are utilized and built upon. The options of the different sports camps serve all different types of campers, their interests, and a range of areas to further develop physical and social emotional skills. Whether it is Pingry Squash camp that focuses on improving a campers Squash game and abilities on and off of the court, with the plus of a bit of air conditioning or the Youth Football camp that targets and individualizes specific . In a two week intensive, GRIT Basketball campers will work with elite coaches to comprehensively focus on the physical and mental skills that are used by elite college and pro players. In the Pingry Boys and Girls Lacrosse Camp, campers will work with Coach Braun and Webster who have helped to develop and build the dedication of All-star and All-American players. These are just some of the wide range of Sports options Pingry summer has to offer to get campers active and engaged this summer, tapping into energy that is very ready to be utilized! I know that I am definitely ready to jump into a game of Capture of the Flag!